Jimmy Dunne, Founder and Director
of People Opposed to Paddling Students (POPS)
The first step toward reducing child abuse in Texas is by ending paddling in schools.
Since I first spoke out against corporal punishment in the schools in January, 1981, calling it legalized child abuse, I have learned a great deal about the issue. People learn how to behave from their role models. When parents curse, children learn to cuss, when parents yell, children learn to yell and when parents hit, slap or spank, children learn to hit.
The same thing happens when the schools are swinging paddles on their students. Parents pick up on that and feel that it is OK to whip their children at home with belts, paddles or extension cords. We end up with more battered and dead children.
School paddling is legalized child abuse. Twenty-eight states have banned this brutal and abusive practice. Hitting children with boards is wrong.
It not only hurts children at school, it promotes more child abuse at home. 204 Texas children died from abuse or neglect in the past fiscal year, up 11% from the previous year and double the number from a decade earlier, according to the state Dept. of Family and Protective Services. The 2004 fatality rate, 3.3 for every 100,000 Texas children is roughly 65% higher than the national average of 1.98 per 100,000 children as certified by the federal Dept. of Health and Human Services.
Nearly one in every five of the 204 deaths in the past fiscal year which ended Aug. 31, occurred in Harris County. In fiscal 2003, Texas had 184 child fatalities related to abuse or neglect, according to Family and Protective Services. In 1994, it was 102.
Texas schools paddled almost 74,000 children in 2000, 23% of the kids paddled that year in the U.S. Paddling is more of a reflection on the teacher than on the student. Most good teachers never paddle their students while a man down the hall may be paddling children several times each week. This goes on from kindergarten through high school. Male teachers paddling female junior high and high school girls are often getting a sexual turn-on. Children end up with badly bruised buttocks.
Abolition is supported by the American Medical Assn., the National Bar Assn., the National Education Assn., and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
With Texas child abuse rates higher than the national average, we cannot logically tackle the problem until we put away the paddles in our schools. The good news is that Rep. Dr. Alma Allen, a former Houston school principal is the sponsor of HB 2413 which will abolish corporal punishment in Texas public schools. We all need to get behind this bill.
People Opposed to Paddling Students or POPS
1306 W. Brooklake
Houston, TX 77077
Web site www.nospankingzone.org
See photo of Texas student with paddle-related injury.
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